For my Lattitude placement I was allocated to a town called Jaroslaw, with a population of about 40,000 located two and a half hours east of Krakow. I found the people I met at the beginning of my placement in Jaroslaw to be very kind and accommodating, such as my mentors at the school I was placed at. It was difficult for me to begin with because many people working in the shops and cafes didn’t speak English so it became important for me to learn some basic Polish. I was nervous about teaching when I first started placement but my first lessons were very casual introductory lessons and my students were all kind and well behaved and spoke English quite well. I was teaching children from year 2-9 and prepared lessons and conversation classes with my placement partner.
In the breaks we spent our time exploring Jaroslaw or in the teacher’s common room. I found at the beginning of my placement at my school many of the teachers didn’t want to talk to me because they were very self-conscious about their English skills or didn’t know English at all. I started to learn Polish with the help of my mentor so that I could talk to the Polish teachers and eventually could have a conversation with them. I wasn’t particularly homesick at the start of my placement, but it was challenging to adjust to the new environment and culture, however I was excited about the new experiences ahead and these challenges would prove to be ones I could overcome.
Nearing the end of my placement I was ready to return home but I was also sad that my time in Jaroslaw would soon come to an end. I had grown close to a lot of my students, my mentors and the sisters and teachers at my school. It was at the end of my placement that I realised how much I thought of Jaroslaw almost as a second home that was familiar to me. I reflected a lot on the kindness of my mentors and students, and the great experiences I had had.
My Lattitude Poland placement was a great experience with amazing opportunities that helped me grow and develop a sense of cultural awareness. The people you meet and the things you get to do make it a highly worthwhile experience.